Wal Mart COVID-19 Policies Put Workers and Public at Risk
As this pandemic outbreak continues, retail stores continue to be a primary hotspot for virus transmission. With the state deeming grocery stores and some retail essential businesses in the crisis, retail workers are among the most at risk, and unlike those in the medical industry, we have been provided with no real, meaningful safeguards to protect ourselves or customers. As a Wal Mart employee, I have to say our company is one of the worst in terms of response.
The company has had very limited competency in creating new protocols, and has been chaotic regarding what has been implemented, rescinding changes to attendance policy several times for example. Some of us with other work experience have implemented our own systems for sanitation of our work environment, but we are forced to use equipment we have always had at hand. We have access to gloves only in fresh grocery and production areas. Initially we were told we could wear masks and gloves if we provided our own, but I have been told by numerous coworkers that management has been telling them not to wear any PPE because its “scaring customers”.
Additionally, their leave and attendance policies have been bare minimum. We are allowed to take an unpaid leave if we don’t feel safe, and the possibility of a paid leave hinges on being able to get a positive coronavirus test to prove you have it. Either way we still must go through the trouble of the Sedgewick system, as always dumping most of the work on us to prove we deserve it. Initially they suspended the points system and allowed us to use regular PTO as PPTO for sick days, but that was changed the next day. Meanwhile most management can be found tending to office work elsewhere in the store, clearly limiting their exposure as much as possible.
We are only now beginning to recover our supply lines after the weeks of panic buying. The company no longer lets employees shop after hours, which limits our access to the goods we also need by forcing us to buy what’s left on the shelves after the hoarders. It also forces us to shop on our off time, increasing the amount of exposure we have to the public and the virus. Rationing of product has been poorly enforced on everyone but workers and was ignored completely the first week. The stress of dealing with increasingly angry customers as well as the stress of implementing as best we can our own safeguards is compounding to form its own unique mental health risk.
– Anonymous Local Walmart Workers
Ultimately if Wal Mart refuses to take meaningful action it will cost lives. We have many elderly and immunocompromised workers who have been given no better treatment or guarantee than those of us in good health. Many of our cashiers in particular won’t be with us if this continues. We should have been moving all grocery online, enforcing product limits, and allowing workers the space and tools we need to deal with this crisis two weeks ago, and as a result we are in chaos. We have only management to blame.